Wednesday, July 14, 2010

George Steinbrenner, RIP

Well I certainly didn't expect to be penning two Yankees obit posts back-to-back but God works in mysterious ways.

The biggest news in town today -- and probably for the rest of this week -- is the death of Yankees owner and guru George Steinbrenner. The shipbuilder from Cleveland who bought the down on their baseball franchise in 1973 and turned it into a powerhouse died of a heart attack in Florida yesterday morning. He was 80 years old.

It's hard to describe what impact George Steinbrenner's Yankees had on NYC. Many of us take for granted how good a team the Yankees are but it wasn't always the case and it wasn't necessarily destined to be so -- it took George's bullying grit and huge payroll to build up a phenomenal team. He owned it for 37 years and in that time the Yanks won 7 Word Series and 11 American League pennants. That's an amazing record -- for nearly a third of his reign, the Yankees were either in or winning the World Series. Wow.

The stories of what a tyrannical boss Steinbrenner was are legendary -- there probably isn't anyone who worked for him whose balls he didn't bust (and I'm including the women). In the 1990s, Steinbrenner was popularized in the American imagination in Seinfeld during the seasons where George Costanza worked for him and Larry David played him to hilarious effect. I'm sure working for him was hellish and he could probably be monumental mean and unfair ... but the team's results speak for themselves.

So an era in NYC's history ends. Today is the first day of the post-George Steinbrenner period (his sons are running the team but it won't quite be the same). I'm sure the Yankees will do well without him (he hasn't really run the team since 2007 and they did win the World Series last year) but his ghost and legacy will loom large over of them for many years to come.

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